Good morning. Earlier this year we began a new preaching series titled “Hebrews - Jesus Is Better”. We do not know who the author of Hebrews is, but the theme of the book is quite clear. It convincingly teaches that Jesus, His message, and His works are far superior to any and all others. In short, Jesus is better. Though we are only about a quarter of the way through this book, let’s pause for a moment to review.
In the introduction of Hebrews, we are told that Jesus is “A Better Messenger” than any other who came before Him. God made His final and ultimate revelation to mankind through Christ. Being the Son of Almighty God, Jesus is highly exalted above and therefore much “Better than Angels”. Still He willingly chose to leave His throne in glory and came to earth as a human being, thereby becoming “A Better Man” than any of us. Jesus rescued fallen humanity from their captivity to sin and death and has become our Great Deliverer - even “Better than Moses”. By placing our faith in Christ, we can enjoy and enter into “A Better Rest” than either the Promised Land or the Sabbath could ever offer.
So far, we have encountered a couple of warnings along the way as we’ve examined the opening chapters of Hebrews. The first cautioned us to not “drift” away from the godly things which we’ve heard and been taught. There is no escaping the judgment that will fall upon those who neglect the Lord’s salvation. The second advised us not to “doubt” the words or directions of God. He is trustworthy and will enable us to accomplish those things that He desires of us. Those who doubt miss out on the blessings that God has promised and set aside for them.
In preparation for our journey through Hebrews, I have been reading through and am carefully studying the entire book again. Most commentaries identify 5 distinct warning passages which are scattered throughout Hebrews, but I will actually present 6 of them during this study. Most of these warnings are found in the first half of the book, including the 2 mentioned in the preceding paragraph. This morning we will discuss a third warning - “Don’t Disobey”.
I. BE DILIGENT (verse 11)
The first half of this chapter describes the marvelous rest that God has in store for those who trust in Him. It is something to be strongly desired and sought after. Because of its supreme excellence, the writer warns his readers to be “diligent” in their pursuit of this rest, so as not to “fall” or miss out on it due to their “disobedience”.
The Greek word spoudazo is translated “diligent” in this verse. It means “to make haste” and describes someone who is “fully applying themselves”. Not only is their commitment to the cause complete, but it also acts quickly and without any hesitation. Christians should always be both ready and eager to obey God, and should do so wholeheartedly without any reservation. Such diligence is pleasing to the LORD, yet it is sorely lacking in the lives of countless believers. Many tend to serve God begrudgingly, lazily, and with tainted motives.
II. GOD KNOWS (verse 12)
God’s Word is both “living” and “active”. It is not an antiquated or outdated relic of the past, but rather is ever-fresh and always contemporary. The timeless truths found in the Bible apply to every generation. In addition to this, the Scriptures are extremely potent and powerful - able to accomplish that for which they are intended. God’s Word, whether written or spoken, is always effective and never returns void.
God’s Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword”. The Greek word machairan which is translated here as sword more accurately refers to a dagger or large knife. The emphasis is not on the size of the weapon, but rather its sharpness. This type of instrument can make fine, meticulous cuts which can separate “joints and marrow” similar to a surgeon’s scalpel. The metaphor teaches that God’s Word can pierce to and even divide “the soul and spirit”.
God’s Word judges “the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. To understand how this is possible, it is helpful to know that the Bible often speaks of Jesus as the Word of God. He is the Living Word who became flesh and dwelt among men. He is the Word of God personified. Jesus is the Righteous Judge of all mankind, and the Bible contains the standards by which He makes His judgments. Because Jesus is omniscient He knows what people are thinking and what motivates them to act. He knows their deepest secrets and judges their hidden thoughts.
Because this particular verse is quite popular it is often quoted in isolation. It is sometimes printed on decorative signs, bookmarks, or other such things. Usually, this is done without any consideration of the verses around it. However, when considered in context, this delightful description of God’s Word takes on a slightly different connotation. The writer of Hebrews is warning his audience not to disobey God because the LORD knows what they are thinking and will judge them accordingly.
III. GOOD SEES (verse 13)
“There is no creature hidden from His sight.” In other words, no one is exempt from the watchful eye of God. Not only does He see every single person, but also everything that they do. There is no private or secluded place where anyone can go to escape the LORD’s vision. There is no way to conceal one’s deeds or keep them from being seen. “All things are open and laid bare to the eyes of” God Almighty.
In the Bible, there are several stories about people who thought they could hide either themselves or their actions from God. When the LORD called Jonah to go to Nineveh, he instead boarded a ship sailing in the opposite direction. Jonah thought he could travel beyond God’s sight, but soon learned otherwise. After committing adultery and murder, King David thought he could cover up his sins so that no one would ever know. But God saw what David had done, and the truth soon came out. Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property and pretended to give all of the proceeds the church, when in fact they secretly held back a portion of the money for themselves. God knew what they had done, and brought about swift and decisive judgment.
God sees every sinful deed. He knows every wicked thought. Disobedience cannot be hidden from the Lord. Trying to keep things for Him is impossible. God cannot be fooled or mocked. He is not unaware of or oblivious toward sin, but rather merciful, longsuffering, and patient. That said, God’s judgment will not wait forever...
A person’s closeness to God can be seen in and measured by their obedience to His will and commands. Those who truly love the Lord will do what He asks them to do. God would much rather us obey His word than to constantly be seeking His forgiveness because we’ve broken it. We are called to be doers of the word, and not hearers only. But obedience isn’t always easy… as it often demands that we sacrifice our own fleshly desires and ambitions.
Do you remember playing “Hide and Seek” when you were a kid? I can recall a few different occasions when someone hid themselves so well that no one was able to find them. We would wander around for what seemed like hours calling their name and hoping they’d come out. Do you remember searching for Easter Eggs when you were younger? There were times when we couldn’t find all of the eggs that our parents had hidden. A few days later we could smell them rotting in the backyard. Beloved, such things never happen with God. He knows and sees everything, nothing remains unfound, and we are foolish to ever believe otherwise.
Here is the summation - those who disobey God will be seen, known, and judged accordingly. Therefore, don’t disobey. If you do, understand that God is already fully aware of what you’ve done, that at some point it will be made known, and that you will be held accountable. When that day comes, don’t act as if you haven’t be warned.
But the good news is this - forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ. He died on the cross as our substitute and paid the penalty for our sinful disobedience. Will you trust Him to be the Lord and Savior of your life?